Tim Loughton has done his bit to fuel coalition tensions today. At the Conservative Renewal conference this weekend, the former children and families’ minister appeared to suggest Sarah Teather, the former Lib Dem families minister, did a poor job ‘because she didn’t produce one of her own’.
As Matthew Holehouse reveals at the Telegraph, Loughton made the following remarks he has claimed were ‘off the cuff':
‘I guess I have form…particularly since leaving the DfE as minister for children and families so made my pronouncement on family policy. It’s not just that I have changed my mind when I was no longer minister.
‘The person who was actually really in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather. Which was a bit difficult because she didn’t really believe in family. She certainly didn’t produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that was a huge disappointment’
At first, Loughton denied on Twitter making these remarks:
‘Blimey-what am I being panned for now? My criticism was lack of LibDem family policy not of Sarah Teather personally who I always respected’
So the Telegraph duly released the audio recording, to allow you to judge for yourself whether he was attacking her personally or the Lib Dem policy:
Following the audio, which suggests he was addressing Teather personally, Loughton took to Twitter again to apologise and blame the media for how his remarks have been reported:
‘Hold on-if some journo distorting my comments on LDem family policy in2 personal attack on Sarah Teather v sorry but not intended & not fair
‘I will of course apologise to Sarah for the comments that have been reported and were certainly not intended or indeed said in that way
.@timloughton You babbling muppet, you never had judgement worth a damn
— Tory education news (@toryeducation) September 16, 2013